Motor racing-New HRT is a step up, says Karthikeyan

LONDON, March 3 Sat Mar 3, 2012 7:53pm GMT

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LONDON, March 3 (Reuters) - HRT hope to run their new Formula One car for the first time on Monday after failing to make the final pre-season test in Spain this weekend, Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan said on Saturday.

Karthikeyan told Reuters by telephone from Spain that the Spanish-based team had sought permission for a filming day at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya so they could get at least 100km of running.

He said mechanics at the factory in Inningen, near Augsburg, were working around the clock to meet the deadline.

"I've seen the car and it looks a lot better (than last year's)," said India's first grand prix driver and the only one to have scored points, albeit a fourth place with Jordan in the six-car U.S. Grand Prix of 2005.

"We have a lot of experienced people in the team and everyone knows what they are doing. This is not a Mickey Mouse team. We are definitely in a better position than last year," added the 35-year-old.

The team have yet to score a point after two seasons and finished 11th out of 12 last year.

HRT had hoped to take part in the final Barcelona test after passing mandatory crash checks last month but Karthikeyan said there had been just too much work to cram into the time available.

The session ends on Sunday with no further testing allowed until a three-day spell scheduled for Italy's Mugello circuit in August. The season starts in Australia on March 18.

"We basically needed another 24 hours," said Karthikeyan.

The team, who are now under new Spanish ownership after the departure of previous team principal Colin Kolles, did not race in Australia last year after failing to set the required qualifying time with an untested car.

They also failed to test in 2010.

British-based Marussia, formerly Virgin Racing, have also failed to run their new car before Melbourne and are expected to line up a filming day of their own once their car has passed its final mandatory crash test. (Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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